Saigoneer

Hẻm Gems: On the Nguyen Du Sidewalk, Connoisseur Coffee at Pavement Prices

Contemporary coffee culture in Saigon is largely one of extremes. On one end, enthusiasts at trendy shops source, grow, roast and meticulously prepare some of the finest beans in the world, and on the other, humble carts serve cheap cups on hectic street corners. And in between? Cà Phê Tám Hường. The tiny stand situated in a shaded spot on Nguyen Du Street serves coffee fit for a connoisseur at pavement prices.

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Hẻm Gems: In Saigon's First Shots Bar, Usain Bolt and Princess Peach in Test Tubes

Pham Ngu Lao Street, along with its sister street Bui Vien, has been known for almost two decades to foreigners as the perfect place to drink, bunk-in and conveniently repeat. In other words, a booze-filled heaven complete with affordable hostels and hotels for first-timers in Vietnam.

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Hẻm Gems: Coconut Coffee and Banana Bread in a Quiet Corner of Thao Dien

Thao Dien is known to some as a quiet neighborhood, despite its ongoing development projects. Upscale restaurants and fancy cafes are plentiful, serving a range of gourmet food and drinks. Yet, in between high-end eateries and tube houses, at times we can find a few places where we kick off our shoes and feel at home, such as this cozy cafe near the Thao Dien Market.

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Hẻm Gems: When a Saigon Cafe Gets Its Hanoi Quirks Just Right

There are three H’s that best encompass Vietnam: Hanoi, the capital; Hue, the ancient capital; and Ho Chi Minh City, the economic center. While I am still struck by Hue’s vibrant culture, my memories of Hanoi are not as vivid. However, I instantly relived Hanoi moments after my visit to Ngách 160 café.

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Hẻm Gems: Authentic French Pastries in an Unexpected Part of Town

Perhaps a story not too unfamiliar to many: Tom Nguyen grew up in France as a French-Vietnamese. Any similarity in background with other Viet Kieu, however, ends rather quickly. About two years ago, Nguyen returned to Saigon with his partner to start LT Pâtisserie. What makes his venture special is the unique choice of location.

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Hẻm Gems: While the Day Away Under the Green Canopy of Cỏ Cafe

Under a thick canopy of verdant vines and minuscule pink flowers, it’s easy to indulge in the cooling comfort of a glass of iced tamarind juice and while the day away.

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Hẻm Gems: Lost in the Half-Childlike, Half-Adult World of 'The Little Prince'

Remember the tale about a little boy who travels planet to planet on a quest to discover and retrieve lessons about the adult world? This cafe is yet another untold chapter of that story.

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Hẻm Gems: At Thương Library, a Shrine to Leonard Cohen and How the Light Gets In

At the risk of appearing like a pretentious prig, I will begin this Hẻm Gem review with the introduction of a foreign word: the weirdly specific concept of smultronstället.

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Hẻm Gems: Come for the Architecture, Stay for the Architecture

In an age when seemingly every building in Saigon has been knocked down for redevelopment at least once, it's rare to be able to spend time in a truly unique architectural gem.

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Hẻm Gems: On the Road to Ruin, From Budapest to Binh Thanh

The southern edge of Binh Thanh is one of Saigon’s most fascinating areas. More cosmopolitan than the district would have you believe, its maze-like streets hold a heady mix of different influences. Wet market stalls and quiet cafés, tucked-away Japanese eateries and quaint low-rise apartment blocks.

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Hẻm Gems: Cam Cam Kafe and the Fujian Pagoda That Inspired Its Name

I wish I could claim that I discovered Cam Cam Kafe by myself. Tucked away in a corner unit up the second floor of a nondescript apartment in District 5, the coffee shop seems mostly undetectable from a pedestrian’s perspective. And that’s by design.

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BUDX HCMC